In recent years the Miami Dolphins have emphasized the use of Florida talent into making an NFL roster. The Dolphins currently have 7 players on their roster who attended a university in Florida, including recent draftees, Lamar Miller, Olivier Vernon, Caleb Sturgis, and Mike Pouncey. In the 2013 season, the University of Miami ranked 3rd (38 players) on the list of number of graduates on an NFL roster, along with Florida State University ranking at #5 (31), and the University of Florida at #12 (26). With this recent trend in the Dolphins pursuing home grown talent, I will highlight a few of the Florida prospects in the upcoming draft.
Timmy Jernigan, DT, Florida State
Timmy Jernigan provided to the Seminoles as a superb run stopper, and won a National Championship in the 2014 season. Jernigan who weights in at 6’2″, 299 lbs. is projected to be a late first rounder on Thursday, to an early second round selection on day two. In regards to the Dolphin’s interest in Jernigan, with the loss of Paul Soliai the Dolphins may be looking to pick up a physical defensive tackle. Although Jernigan is among the top Florida prospects in the draft, along with UCF quarterback Blake Bortles, and Florida’s Dominique Easley, Jernigan may acquire interest come draft day.
Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Florida State
Another piece of Seminole’s talent involves wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin. Benjamin is an intriguing prospect in this draft, as he weights in at a physical 6’5″ and provides a Calvin Johnson-esque down field play maker ability. Benjamin has also been regarded as a late first round, to early second round prospect, and has drawn interest from the St. Louis Rams, and the San Francisco 49ers, among others. Although wide receiver is also a position the Dolphins do not need accommodate for this early, there have been rumors in the Dolphins being interested in wide-outs.
Devonta Freeman, RB, Florida State
Coming into the off season, the running back position was one to be addressed. After the signing of free agent Knowshon Moreno, the Dolphins now have a total of five running backs on the roster, including Lamar Miller, Daniel Thomas, Mike Gillislee, and Marcus Thigpen. Coming into the draft, there has been talk of the Dolphins adding another young back behind Ryan Tannehill, particularly later in the draft. Names like Tre Mason, Devonta Freeman, Dri Archer, and even UCF’s Storm Johnson have been mentioned in this process. Freeman could be a great selection for the Dolphins if he falls to the 4th-5th rounds, as he averaged 5.9 yards per carry behind the Heismann Winner, Jameis Winston.
In rounds 3-4, there is a plethora of projected Florida corner backs to be selected, including Florida State’sLamarcus Joyner, the University of Florida’s Marcus Roberson, as well as Florida State’s safety Terrence Brooks. Between these three players, they are all projected within 20 picks of eachother, which gives the Dolphins numerous options around their 81st pick. Lamarcus Joyner in particular reminds me of last year’s Xavier Rhodes. Lamarcus Joyner hosts great instincts, and is always a threat to get the ball. The Dolphins may be searching to fill some holes in their secondary, after Chris Clemons left to free agency, in a heavy passing league. Look for the Dolphins to try and fill their secondary in the 3rd-4th rounds.
Seantrel Henderson, OL, Miami
Seantrel Henderson came out of high school as one of the highly regarded line man in the nation. However, since 2010 little has gone right for Henderson as he was suspended from the team 3 times in his tenure with the Hurricanes, and just recently failed a drug test. Halfway through his pro-day in April, Henderson reportedly quit due to dehydration, as Henderson carries a 6’7″ 331 lbs. stature with him. These multiple factors have impacted Henderson’s draft stock negatively, as it continues to fall.
Although it seems the negatives out weight the positives for Henderson, he was selected as 3rd team all ACC last season.